Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Great British Nutters - an introduction

“What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life” - George Mallory, who died on Mt Everest

DON’T GET ME WRONG, calling someone a nutter (great, British or otherwise) isn’t an insult. At least in my book it’s not.

On the contrary, most of our greatest heroes and heroines have been half-mad. Bold, brave and often brilliant, for sure - but also, quite wonderfully, barking.

It’s especially true with the best adventurers and explorers. Schlepping through jungles and crossing Arabian sands is not normal behaviour. You don’t have to be nuts to do it, but it helps.

You don’t have to be British either, but that helps too. God knows why, but over the years this little island has churned out way more than its fair share of intrepid globe-trotters. There’s not a hellish journey on the planet that some mad Brit hasn’t had a crack at at one time or another.

So this blog is a small celebration of these exceptional men and women. I’m whittling down a long list of likely candidates to a few dozen and I'll post a profile on each over the coming months. In a crowded field, these are my favourites – the A-team.

On the face of it, they have little in common. Some are famous, others forgotten. Some were near-saints, others ruthless and racist. They travelled in the name of science and discovery, or the King and Empire. They did it for their God, for glory, for money – or for a laugh.

Yet they all share something special – a surplus of pluck perhaps, an excess of courage – that sets them above the comfortable crowd. And one more thing: they are all gloriously optimistic.

You don’t go charging off to the world’s most distant, desolate and dangerous places because you’ve got some sort of death wish: the opposite. You go because there is something worth seeing; because you believe in yourself; because you know big risks bring big rewards.

There’s nothing wrong with nutters, God no. The world would be a dimmer place without them. Hope you enjoy the blog...

* Thanks for visiting Great British Nutters. I hope you have enjoyed what you've read. I no longer post on this blog, but have started a new one called History Nuts. It's along similar lines but with shorter posts. Please take a look. You can also follow me on Twitter @historynuts or at  facebook.com/historynuts. Thanks again!


Ellumbra said...

A fascinating read - thanks for accumulating all these together.
This blog of yours deserves a wider readership!

vza said...

I stumbled upon your blog and have been laughing all morning. What a delightful read! This would make a great little book.

Corinne said...

An excellent blog. I could not stop both admiring these people and laughing my head off. They sure deserved being remembered and documented, mainly in your loving and witty way.
Brilliant job, thanks!

Simon Bendle said...

Ellumbra, vza and Corinne – thank you so much for your kind comments.

I began this blog four years ago, at the time fully intending to keep it going for years. But then the first of our two boys was born. My spare writing-time vanished in an instant. And since that moment I have not been back.

With a hint of normality finally returning to our home, I have just re-read Great British Nutters for the first time since 2008. I’m hoping to maybe revive it. Of perhaps I’ll start a new blog along similar lines.

I was surprised and delighted to read your comments. They’ve given me great encouragement. So glad you enjoyed reading my pieces. If I can now find the time to write some more, I hope you’ll enjoy those just as much.

Once again, thanks – Simon